PMS. Ugh. That dreaded week (or two) each month where your pants fit a little bit tighter than usual, you wake up with an unexpected breakout and are pretty much ravenous for everything under the sun, namely carbs and chocolate. And let's not even get started on the complete mood-killing bloat that makes you feel extra self conscious and wishing that you could just wear your PJs all week. Temporary fixes (i.e. hoarding doughnuts for breakfast) seem like the necessary option at the time, however it does not feel so nice when you're aching to curl up in the fetal position an hour later.
PMS symptoms can sometimes seem worse from month to month because it's likely that you're deficient in some very important vitamins and minerals, if course you want that doughnut as opposed to something "healthy" and by all means have it, as this is not the time to deprive yourself. Just don't let that get you off track for the rest of the week. There are plenty of ways to satisfy monthly cravings in a way that's both healthy and delicious, giving you a new perspective on how to handle PMS woes without reaching for junk all day long.
Begin by increasing your consumption of some of these key vitamins and minerals and see where that gets you. I've found that it can make a very noticeable difference, and I hope the same goes for you as well.
Magnesium - You're probably craving chocolate more than usual that time of the month because your magnesium levels are low. Dark chocolate contains a very high level of this important mineral and it's best to grab for a brand that has a cocoa content of 80% or higher. Cashews, almonds, spinach and chickpeas also are excellent sources of magnesium.
Potassium - This should be your answer in helping to fight bloat. While you may crave salty foods, try to opt for potassium rich foods like bananas, avocados, and even coconut water which should help to flush some of that extra water weight.
Calcium - Sadly, many women aren't getting enough calcium in our diets, however it's likely to be your best friend when it comes to fighting PMS. The first thing that come to mind when thinking about calcium are dairy products such as cheese and milk, however for those of you that have a dairy intolerance (myself included), opt for non-dairy milks that are calcium fortified, soy yogurts, orange juice, kale and yes, tempeh.
Vitamin B12 - For vegetarians and vegans, this is a tough one since we clearly do not consume any meat products where high amounts of this B12 are found. Energy is lacking during this time, therefore it's a good idea to take a supplement to make sure you're getting the proper boost. Kombucha also contains a trace amount of vitamin B12 and is a great morning coffee replacement, especially since that cup of joe is said to be not-so-PMS-friendly. If you're up for the task, learn how to make your own kombucha at home.
Vitamin D - This vitamin helps with calcium consumption and as a result helps to ease monthly blues, irritability, tension, cravings, etc. If you're looking for a supplement, aim for one with at least 1000 to 2000 IU and if you're a fan of it, salmon is an excellent choice here.
By having a better understanding of which vitamins and minerals are essential for beating your PMS symptoms, it's easier to find recipes that incorporate many of these ingredients. Use some of these as a framework and tweak in a way that will satisfy your own personal preferences.
The combination of quinoa and avocado in these Quinoa Stuffed Avocados will "fill you up without filling you out," as they say. Potassium rich and high in protein, you'll feel sustained for hours
Likely one of the easiest snacks that you can make any time of day, add some flavor and an extra boost of nutrition by spreading almond butter on top of a banana and sprinkling with hemp seeds. Ever considered wrapping your banana in lettuce? I didn't either until I came across a recipe for a raw banana breakfast wrap trio - peanut butter & maple, chia date crumble and cookies & "cream." Reap the nutritious benefits of leafy greens while allowing any hesitations for a lettuce-like taste to be masked by the banana and additional flavor combinations. It's the same thing as tossing a handful of spinach leaves into your morning smoothie (and if you haven't tried that yet, you should).
Vitamin D steals the spotlight in this Quinoa Flaked Salmon, especially good in the winter months when you're not exposed to as much sunlight. For the most sustainable choice, opt for wild Alaskan to ensure that what you're consuming is safe.
These Almond Butter Cups are a great alternative to other store bought varieties in that they are dairy and sugar free, yet still rich and nourishing thanks to coconut oil, dates, almond butter and cocoa powder.
Make yourself some Dark Chocolate Trail Mix Bites that you can store in the fridge and grab for anytime you have a craving for something a little sweet. You're allowing yourself a chocolatey fix while also getting a nice dose of nutrition from the oats, quinoa, almond butter and so on. This is a recipe where you can get creative and experiment with whatever flavors sound most appealing to you. Wash it down with a glass of almond milk for a healthier take on the traditional milk & cookies.
Because our bodies and PMS symptoms are all very different, it may take some time to figure out what seems to be doing the trick for you. Experiment around with ingredients and try to take note of what seems to be doing the trick and stick with that. If you evaluate your current diet and notice that you aren't incorporating much calcium, that itself may be your answer. Perhaps you realize that you're not getting a lot of magnesium, so whip up a batch of trail mix with some raw cashews and keep it with you as an afternoon snack. And in all honesty, grabbing for a doughnut may just be the quick fix that you need. Don't deprive yourself, but start here and pay attention to what your body is telling you. That time of the month is no joke, so try to relax...and please, be well.